McLaren downplays Hamilton's low-key mood after qualifying in Korea
|By Jonathan Noble||Saturday, October 15th 2011, 11:08 GMT|
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has played down Lewis Hamilton's low key mood after securing pole position for the Korean Grand Prix - insisting it is not mandatory for drivers to celebrate in wild style like Sebastian Vettel does.
Hamilton and his McLaren team ended Red Bull Racing's lock-out of pole positions this season with a strong performance in Korea – delivering the 2008 world champion's first top grid slot since last year's Canadian Grand Prix.
And although the performance was greeted with joy at McLaren, Hamilton surprised observers by appearing quite calm about the achievement – and needing to explain to the media that he was actually happy inside.
"It is not obligatory to whoop!" explained Whitmarsh. "The fact is that we all have different styles and different views. We all enjoyed the moment but at the same time we are focused on the fact that we have a race that we think we can win tomorrow, and we are looking and concentrating on that."
Hamilton said that he only found out he had got pole position a few corners after his qualifying lap, once main rival Vettel had crossed the line.
And, although there was no joyous outpouring of emotion in the car or in the pits afterwards, Hamilton said he was delighted with the performance.
"I wasn't on the radio. It felt great in the car. I didn't know whether I had got pole position until I got to Turn 3 or Turn 4, so it was good to hear. I had not heard that for a long time so it was a comforting feeling."
He added: "It is a great feeling when you come across the line knowing you have done a lap and eventually when you have your engineer come across and say you do or you don't have it.
"It is very rare that I have my engineer tell me that I am on pole so I wasn't sure what his words were leading to. But eventually he got to it that I was doing a good job. And I could hear it was satisfying, as I could hear the guys in the background cheering."
When asked about his focused mood, and whether any element of his approach to the weekend had changed on the back of recent struggles, Hamilton said: "No. I am the same as always. I am happy. I have a great position for tomorrow.
"It is nice to have a full qualifying session and to be able to get us on the front two rows. It was a great qualifying session for us. I've not changed anything; I don't plan to change anything. It is still the same as it has been."
Whitmarsh added that one of the best elements of Hamilton taking pole was that he did not have to make a move for the radio button to turn off Vettel's normal post-chequered flag celebrations.
"Pole position is lovely to get but we are here to try and win the race, and I think that is more important to us," he said.
"I have to confess we do listen to some of the other drivers and, on the monitor, I have a driver button. Afterwards, when they have gone on pole, I have to turn it off immediately so I don't have to hear Sebastian whooping it up in the car. Today I wasn't feverishly looking for that button to turn it off, so that felt good!"